Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy, delivers 2023/24 Budget Vote
19 May 2023
Environmental Impact Assessment applications for 9789 Megawatts of renewable energy are presently being processed by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, says Minister Barbara Creecy.
This is made up of 2899 Megawatts for solar PV, 6890 for wind energy facilities and many of these applications include battery energy storage systems and associated transmission and distribution infrastructure.
“We are working hard to cut the red tape and get these projects finalised and, in this regard, we have reduced our decision-making timeframes from 107 days to 57 days,” the Minister said delivering the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s budget vote to the National Assembly.
In addition, 15 applications relating to transmission and distribution infrastructure are being prioritised.
Pointing to the fact that grid capacity is a major constraint to scaling up the energy transition, the Minister said: “Grid capacity is a national priority to solve, not only for our transition needs but also for our short-term emergency to solve load-shedding.”
Referring to recent concerns about the modelling of delays in decommissioning aging coal-fired power stations as a means to address loadshedding, the Minister reiterated that government is clear that the country must battle both load shedding and climate change.
“It is not a one or the other decision,” said the Minister.
In light of the 6th Assessment Report of the of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which confirmed the world has already warmed at an unprecedented rate and that Africa is already experiencing widespread losses and damage due to climate change, Minister Creecy said Carbon Budget regulations are being developed to address the submission and processing of industry climate change mitigation plans. Regulations for implementing and enforcing priority area air quality management plans have also been published for public comment.
On the adaptation front, the local government support programme will continue to be rolled out alongside work by the South African Weather Service to automate and modernise its observations infrastructure so that the public are warned timeously of extreme weather events. This would save lives and livelihoods.
In the biodiversity and conservation field in the 2023/24 financial year work is directed at domesticating the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) adopted at the Convention on Biological Diversity in December 2022.
This will be achieved through the White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity recently adopted by Government. An early action grant has been received from the Global Environmental Facility by the Department to assist to develop a widely consulted implementation plan for the White Paper.
Now that the White Paper is completed, the Department will return to processing all the feedback received from the Policy Paper on the High-Level Panel recommendations.
With regard to the Ministerial Task Team appointed in December 2022, to advise the Minister on voluntary exit from the captive lion breeding industry, significant progress has been made in engaging with all stakeholders in the industry, the relevant issuing authorities and vulnerable workers. In April a public call was gazetted inviting registration by participants who wish to voluntarily exit from the captive lion industry. The period for registration has been extended by a further 60 days.
To address corruption and criminality in the Kruger Landscape, the National Integrated Strategy to Combat Wildlife Crime has been adopted by Cabinet.
“This means all the government role players must now work collectively and hold each other accountable in the fight against this highly sophisticated form of organised crime. The Natjoints Priority Committee on Wildlife Trafficking will now identify critical measures that can be expedited over the next six months,” Minister Creecy said.
Efforts are being ramped up by the Department to address rhino poaching and related wildlife crimes in the Hluhluwe/iMfolozi game reserve through support to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The Department will also invest R40 million to improve the boundary fencing.
In Kruger National Park area steps to ensure greater visitor safety have seen the installation hi-tech surveillance equipment at Numbi Gate by the Tourism Business Council of SA. The Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism is also supporting a community training and development initiative to improve security around this access point.
On the management of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, the Minister said besides the appointment of specialists and work to clear alien invasive plants along the estuary mouth, a new Estuarine Management Plan is expected to be completed by August this year. A panel of environmental consultants has been appointed to conduct the necessary environmental assessment related to the back-flooding of farmlands. It is estimated that the basic assessment and public consultation will be finalised within 90 days.
The fishing sector remains an important contributor to the economy and to the improvement of the lives of especially coastal communities. The Department is in the final stretch of completing the 1 213 appeals against the decisions of the delegated authorities in the nine fishing sectors for the 2021/22 Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP). Appeal decisions in four fisheries have been finalised with finalisation of the squid sector this month. Appeal decisions in the remaining sectors are set for finalisation by 30 October 2023.
The allocation of small-scale fishing rights for the Western Cape was rerun and the Department is finalising the appeals process. The aim is to complete the allocation of 15-year fishing rights to small-scale fishing communities in the Western Cape by October 2023. This will enable a further 3 500 declared traditional small-scale fishers to directly benefit and participate in the ocean's economy.
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment commits to support municipalities and residents to improve the cleanliness of the country using innovative, labour intensive, delivery mechanisms that crowd-in private sector technical expertise and funding.
The focus will be on the smaller metropolitan municipalities and provincial capitals. The DFFE is intensifying efforts to improve cleanliness levels in Mafikeng, Mangaung, Bhisho, and the other Provincial capital towns as part of the re-invigorated Presidential Good Green Deeds programme.
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